Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the NYSSCPA Mid-Hudson Chapter’s Annual Banker, Attorney, CPA Networking Event in Poughkeepsie, NY. I know there are many associations around the country that organize this type of event, where all the key influencers convene for one night and network over drinks and noshes and listen to a speaker. Well, the Hudson Valley is no different.
What’s unique about the event in this region is that every year, the guest speaker typically comes from the world of professional sports. In the past they’ve had Darryl Strawberry, Goose Gossage, Ron Darling, and Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy. This year, the speaker was Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, winner of seven medals including gold for the balance beam and the team event at the ’96 Games in Atlanta. That Olympics was the first I remember watching, hence where my Olympics obsession began, and that combined with my affinity for business development in accounting and finance made it a no-brainer for me to attend on Thursday.
After dinner and dessert, Shannon took to the podium and shared anecdotes and lessons pertaining to her early years in gymnastics, culminating, of course, in the Barcelona and Atlanta Games, and her subsequent battle with and victory over ovarian cancer.
Here are some of her thoughts about achieving success and overcoming obstacles.
– Accountability. She said, “It’s easy for everyone to tell you you won’t succeed, but it’s your job to tell yourself why you will.”
– Learning from mistakes. Inevitably, we will all make mistakes in life. But it’s through those mistakes that we learn to get back up and keep trying. Shannon recounted how a fall during an event in Atlanta gave her unbridled motivation to persevere, which, in turn, led her to a gold medal on the balance beam. She also recalled having to wear leg braces as a child because an orthopedic surgeon noticed her legs were turning inwards, which led everyone to believe that she would have problems crawling and eventually walking. Well, clearly this did not turn out to be the case.
– Don’t allow negativity to consume you. No one can steal your joy if you don’t let them. She had a special trick for this. For every negative thing you hear, think of two positive things. This will help nip negativity in the bud and allow you to really focus on achieving your goals with a positive mindset. And on that note…
– Set goals and be specific. This one’s a no-brainer. What do you want to accomplish? Once you determine the steps to success, follow through with them. As Shannon said, “Everyone has a dream, but if you don’t do the work to make that dream happen, that dream will stay a dream.” So true. It’s all about taking the leap to begin achieving your desires. Certainly that takes courage, but you destined to get nowhere if you do nothing.
– Align yourself with the right team. This especially rang true for Shannon in 2011, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and she thought at one point she wouldn’t be able to overcome it. But she did, with the help of her team of doctors, and this year marked five years for her being cancer-free.
As she said, “We might think our team is those with whom we share the most emails, but that’s not true. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people at events such as this.” In other words, your team isn’t just your workplace, it’s your clients, social media followers, vendors…your network. Once you have your team, commit yourself to excellence. What you do every moment of every day truly matters. And that is her “gold medal mindset” – an attitude of going out and winning, every day.
I’m very much looking forward to next year’s event. Right now, though, I gotta get ready to go out to an Election Night party. Talk to y’all next week!